The spirits of Nordic folklore come calling in this entrancing tale of family secrets and ancient mysteries by the #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author of The Haunting of Brynn Wilder.
In Metsan Valo, her family home on Lake Superior, Anni Halla’s beloved grandmother has died. Among her fond memories, what Anni remembers most vividly is her grandmother’s eerie yet enchanting storytelling. By firelight she spun tall tales of spirits in the nearby forest and waters who could heal—or harm—on a whim. But of course those were only stories…
The reading of the will now occasions a family reunion. Anni and her twin brother, their almost otherworldly mother, and relatives Anni hasn’t seen in forever—some with good reason—are all brought back together under one roof that strains to hold all their tension. But it’s not just Annie’s family who is unsettled. Whispers wind through the woods. Laughter bursts from bubbling streams. Raps from unseen hands rupture on the walls. Fireflies swarm and nightmares stir. With each odd occurrence, Anni fears that her return has invited less a welcoming and more a warning.
When another tragedy strikes near home, Anni must dive headfirst into the mysterious happenings to discover the truth about her home, her family, and the wooded island’s ancient lore. Plunging into the past may be the only way to save her family from whatever bedevils Metsan Valo.
WENDY WEBB's novels are mysteries about long-buried family secrets, set in big, old haunted houses on the Great Lakes.
THE END OF TEMPERANCE DARE (2017, Lake Union) is set in a former tuberculosis sanatorium on Lake Superior, now a renowned retreat for artists and writers. When Eleanor Harper takes the helm as its new director and her first batch of visiting artists arrives, she begins to suspect this isn't going to be the restful retreat she thought it might be.
THE VANISHING (2014, Hyperion) is the story of Julia Bishop, who takes a job as a companion for a famous novelist, who the entire world thinks is dead. When she travels to the novelist's remote estate, she begins to suspect her too-good-to-be-true job offer is exactly that.
THE FATE OF MERCY ALBAN (2013, Hyperion) is an Indie bestseller. It's the story of Grace Alban, who returns home after 20 years when her mother dies under questionable circumstances on the very day she (the mother) planned to reveal the truth about a tragedy that occurred during a party at Alban House long ago. A packet of old love letters and a lost manuscript by a famous novelist lead Grace to the haunted truth about what really happened that day.
Wendy's first novel, THE TALE OF HALCYON CRANE (2010, Holt) was an IndieNext Pick, a Great Lakes Great Reads Pick and a Midwest Connections Pick. It won the prestigious Minnesota Book Award for genre fiction in 2011, and was a finalist for Le Livre de Poche's Prix des Lecteurs award in France in 2012.
Delicious, intriguing mystery with supernatural elements dancing with spirits and unique urban legends premise! I’m sold!
I already enjoyed the previous works of the author! So as soon as I read the blurb about mystical creatures lurking around forest, sky, sending messages to connect with people and a gothic mansion theme with so many secrets, I was so intrigued!
Story starts with Finnish family gathering at Metsan Valo, such a unique family house located at Lake Superior ( a famous location the author’s most works take place in) Twins Anni and Theo spent their entire childhood in this house with their grandmother Mummo and raised with her urban legend stories she’s told them.
Then Anni moved to Paris and spent there last 10 years of her life, planning to visit Mummo for spending time with her. But unfortunately she kept her sickness as secret and the news about her sudden death shocks her.
Entire family returns back to the house not for emotional reasons but mostly learning about their share from the will. Unfortunately most of them get unsatisfied, even furious after finding out they don’t get what they hope for.
Anni deals with more serious problems including seeing unsettled spirits lurking around the forest and quickly disappearing. She realizes the stories her Mummo told at her childhood time and the spirits called Vaki are real. But what kind of message they try to send? What should she do for making things right?
And a sudden death makes things more complicated!
Complex, various, layered, varied characters, great waltz between claustrophobic mystery meets supernatural thriller with lyrical story telling skills of the author turn into this into unique literature feast I highly recommend!
Special thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for sharing this amazing digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.
Annalise (Anni) returns from Paris to her ancestral home of Metsan Valo full of sadness following the sudden and unexpected death of her beloved Mummo (grandmother) who is of Finnish extraction. Just as when she was a child the voices of the Vaki are calling her from deep within the ancient pine forest. Metsan Valo is a place where truth and legend intertwine.
First of all the setting in Lake Superior is absolutely perfect for this atmospheric novel. There are some very good descriptions of the house and all of it’s surroundings which makes it easy to visualise. I really like the concept of the novel where present day mystery meets ancient supernatural legend and folklore of Finland. The power of the ancestral hold and its pull on the characters especially Anni is extremely well done. I thoroughly enjoy those parts and I guess I’m a tailor made reader for this one as I’m interested in the folktales of different cultures. The ghostly element is very good and the house feels alive, we have pine forests that feel enchanted and a variety of apparitions, some benign and some not, that point Anni in the direction her Mummo wishes her to go in her unusual bequests. This leads to the potential of cats among pigeons! The characters are a really good mixture of some to like, dislike or be wary of. As the well paced plot progresses there are some intriguing undercurrents within the family network and as things escalate and become dangerous to life with some creepy coincidences, you wonder if it’s as the spirits intended or is it someone of this earth? You find yourself immersed in the suspenseful atmosphere and really wanting to know the outcome.
Overall, this is a well written and compelling novel, it’s easy to read and just a little bit different. It’s worth reading the afterword to understand the origins of the book. Finally, one character remarks that we have lost the ability to be in tune and in harmony with our surrounding and all that inhabit it as our ancestors were. How true.
With thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.
A family reunion at Metsan Valo is imminent due to the untimely death of Taika Halla, mistress of the manor. She is grandmother to Annalise and Theo, who return to their childhood home for the reading of their mummo’s will. As soon as they return, strange mystical occurrences begin to happen, which seem to reinforce the strange stories they have heard over the years. Is the house enchanted by the vaki who live in the forest? Annalise must figure out her role in the family in order to stop a succession of bad events that seems to threaten her relatives’ lives.
Wendy Webb is one of my go to authors when I want to read a good gothic tale. I have read all of her books and enjoy learning about the Lake Superior small town life and the people who live there in this reoccurring setting.
In The Keepers of Metsan Valo, we revisit characters who have been stars in her previous books. It is nice to follow a common thread throughout her writing and feel like you are part of this small town community. Unfortunately, a significant amount of time is spent describing the setting instead of furthering the plot. While familiar, this time I felt like this pattern became too repetitive. The same formula seemed to be more tired this time around, as the plot unfolded too slowly and wasn’t supported by hooks that really resonated with me. The writing itself also felt too simplistic. Webb mentions in the acknowledgments that she used a different method for writing this book than in the previous ones, and I don’t feel like it was as successful. However, I did enjoy learning more about Finnish folklore, but feel it wasn’t enough to carry the plot of this tale.
While this wasn’t my favorite book by this author, I will absolutely continue to read about these wonderful characters who I have come to know and love!
2.5/5 stars rounded up
Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union publishing for the ARC of The Keepers of Metsan Valo in exchange for an honest review.
"Metsan Valo was new hen the ancient trees had not yet fallen to the lumberman's axe, when mystery and wisdom still permeated the land and the water and the sky."
Who said you can't go home again? Metsan Valo is the Halla family home on Lake Superior. Taika “Mummo” Hallo has died. Her family did not know she was ill, she kept it a secret, but they have all returned to Mummo's home for the reading of her video will. In her will she speaks to her family and tells them what she has left for them. Some will understand, some will be upset, some will be shocked, and some will be jealous.
"You can travel the world over and eat every cuisine known to man but it's the food on your own table that speaks to your heart."
Anni begins noticing things that aren't quite right. She is happy to have her twin brother, Theo with her but she is the one who hears that strange knocks, the whispers on the wind, she and Theo both experience the swarm of the lightening bugs.
Are these things related to their grandmother's death? What family secrets will be learned?
With Wendy Webb, you know that there will be a blending of fiction and paranormal/supernatural elements. The author informs readers in her acknowledgements section that this book "...started with the nagging desire to immerse myself in the folklores of my ancestors."
This was an easy pleasing read that fan of Webb will enjoy. The setting set the stage and was both Gothic and atmospheric. The various characters were interesting, annoying, and multifaceted.
Overall, an enjoyable read perfect for the fall season especially if you enjoy folklore.
Thank you to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
Anni Halla and all of her relatives have been summoned to their old home called Metsan Valo whose meaning is "Forest Light" on Lake Superior for the funeral and a family reunion of sorts for the reading of the will from their beloved grandmother (Mummo), who had unexpectedly passed away. Anni recalls so many memories of her Mummo telling old Nordic stories of the eerie, enchanted forest surrounding Metsan Valo with the magical little people (Vaki) and talking animals also whispering brooks and all living things that lived within these woods. Some tales would tell of the trickery, spells and mischievous encounters of some of the little folk while other stories told of the magical powers that the Vaki possessed over the land, wind and waters belonging to Metsan Valo. Anni knew these were all old Finnish folklore passed down through the generations but It always seemed Mummo truly believed in these tales and wanted Anni and her family to be aware and respect her feelings and to always be respectful of the woodland and their inhabitants. From the first night Anni arrives she has mixed feelings about her childhood home and begins to experience whispers and shadows and feelings of something ominous in their midst yet she refuses to believe in something otherworldly behind the strange occurrences that begin to multiply and create tension and arguments among the family Anni has always felt happiness and security whenever she stayed at Metsan Valo from her earliest memories as a child and throughout the years so why now is she uncomfortable and feeling fearful with a sense of foreboding when all she ever felt before was love and warmth. When another tragedy strikes the family, Anni knows she must delve into the history of Metsan Valo and explore the hidden secrets of the island to ensure the safety of her family because someone or something malevolent is trying to use fear as a message to make Anni leave Metsan Valo.
I truly enjoyed this eerie and mysterious story that was so uniquely different. There was always an air of spookiness and mystical drama throughout which had me turning the pages very quickly. Wendy Webb was an excellent storyteller and I was hanging onto every word of the history of Metsan Valo and the enchanted forest. Lovely descriptions of the scenery of the forest and the nearby small town on the island had me wanting to know more about all who chose to live on this beautiful island. I can only describe this book as a magical story treat for adults and a great fun to learn some of the Nordic folklore that was researched by this author and spun into a creative and enchanting story of her own. This was my first book by Wendy Webb but it certainly won't be my last!
I highly recommend this novel to any reader who wants to escape and live in a fantasy world for a few hours. I want to thank the publisher "Lake Union Publishing" and Netgalley for the. opportunity to read this wonderful story and any thoughts or opinions expressed are unbiased and mine alone!
I have given this whimsical book a rating of 4 ENCHANTING 🌟🌟🌟🌟 STARS!!
Pros: I love reading about old spooky houses and add in an inheritance I'm totally interested. Plot wise this was right up my alley. It was certainly a fast read and I read in a matter of hours.
Cons: A con was also a pro. It was a fast read, but felt the story and characters lacked depth. which is why I read it so quickly. The story was just that, a story, I felt it could have dealt more into the history of the house and made the scenes involving past inhabitants a little bit longer. It seemed like it was just a quick blip and then back to the present. I would have enjoyed more of the history of it all. The characters also were really one-dimensional. The only character that we seemed to get any real feel for was Anni, it seemed everyone else was just there as a supporting cast but with no character development.. The folklore seemed to be thrown in sporadically and we circle back to it at the end, but it felt just thrown in. Which leads me to the ending, it just seemed anti-climatic.
It wasn't a bad read at all just was expecting a little more atmosphere and spookiness. I also was hoping for a little bit more from Meri and Martin - I was certain something odd was going on with them but I was wrong.(Unless I missed something).
Final Note: I hope I never hear the word "Darling" again. It was way overused and makes me cringe just to write it.
I do love Wendy Webb's books, this just wasn't my favorite.
Thanks to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for my advanced copy
I love Wendy Webbs writing style. She has a way of drawing you in to her mystical stories that she clearly creates. This story included tales of old folklore that wove the past and present together in an eerily, atmospheric and magical way. My favorite characters were Anni and her twin brother Theo. As they try to solve the mystery of the Metsan Valo, we see how both family and history can be both beautiful and sinister at the same time. I enjoyed this gripping tale!
" Babe, I am so exhausted after my day at work, I think I am going to bed early tonight," I swear I had the best of intentions and yet once I cracked open this delicious read inspired by Finnish folktales, I was suddenly very alert.
* I was originally granted an ARC by NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing but it was archived before I could review it. My review today is based on my recently purchased copy.
Publication Date 05/10/21 Goodreads review 01/02/22 #TheKeepersofMetsanValo #NetGalley.
An ancient family home surrounded by haunted woods, a splintered family reunited by a death, and ghostly whispers of the Vaki in the wind…. This supernatural thriller by Wendy Webb had all the tropes I love, and I’m happy to say it delivers on the vast majority of them.
After the passing of their matriarch Taika, a family gathers in their family home on Lake Superior, to pay their respects and honour their (grand-)mothers final wishes. It soon becomes clear that this won’t be the peaceful passing many of them had anticipated; tensions run high over Taika’s eccentric choices for her inheritance, strange occurrences around the house baffle the family and ghostly visions among the pines plague them all. And this is only the beginning… Can granddaughter Anni uncover the ancient secrets of Metsan Valo, before more harm can come to her family?
The Keepers of Metsan Valo did an amazing job of hooking me in from the start with its mysteries, ambience and sense of place. By far its biggest selling-point to me being the latter. With every sentence Wendy Webb brings to life the ancient isolated home, the misty groves surrounding them, and the Nordic spirits that may or may not reside within them. I could vividly picture every scene and even though I had to put the book down a few times during my reading, I always found myself quickly drawn back into the immersion. As a result of the authors talent for creating a vivid setting, the book has some incredibly strong imagery as well. Without spoiling any particular scenes, but some of them are a combination of beautiful, haunting, mystical and supercreepy…
Within this isolated and at times almost claustrophobic setting, the tension between these characters is palpable. Our protagonists Anni and her twin brother Theo are down to earth and likable from the start, yet many of the other family members feel emotionally a bit “off”. In all honesty, I’m not sure if this was intentional or due to some at times clunky character writing, but it added to the creepiness nonetheless. I would have personally liked a bit more depth and development regarding this family, their relationships and their history with each other. There’s a very strong set up here, reminding me almost of Festen by David Edlridge, and it almost felt like a missed opportunity that the story didn’t go down that psychological horror-route of familiar trauma. Instead we focus on the unexplained occurrences: are they supernatural, or is there a rational explanation for all of it? Past the halfway point, I just couldn’t stop turning the pages to find out… That is also however, when parts of the novel encounters some serious pacing problems, that left me feeling unsatisfied in the end. The set-up is ironclad, but by the time that was over, I could already tell there were too few pages left to tie it all together into a satisfying conclusion. And it was: as much as I enjoyed the journey, the ending felt hollow and rushed to me. I’d nonetheless still recommend it for the journey alone, especially as an autumnal or early-Halloween mood-setter. As a final note; as a medical student I have to point out some of the inaccuracies on this front, but I will have to spoil an element of the story to do so. BEWARE SPOILERS AHEAD
Many thanks to Lake Union publishing for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
For some reason, it took me ages to finally read a book by Wendy Webb, but after reading her previous book, The Haunting of Brynn Wilder, I knew I was going to read anything she writes. The Keepers of Metsan Valo is just what you need if you are looking for an eerie and atmospheric read packed full of folklore. I started reading it in September, but it is the PERFECT book to choose for October if you aren't into super scary books. It gave me chills a few times, and Metsan Valo was the perfect creepy setting. Webb's writing is so vivid, and not only did she make this estate come to life for me, but she also brought the landscape around it to life as well. The book is told entirely from Anni's perspective, but I loved basically every single one of the characters, especially as we get to the end of the book. I especially loved Webb's note at the end of the book telling the reader where she got the idea of this story from, and it made perfect sense while also being fascinating.
I would definitely call The Keepers of Metsan Valo magical realism, and if you aren't a fan of that genre you will probably want to keep it moving. We have a supernatural undercurrent that runs through the entire book and while I loved it, I know this is not something everyone does. It is also a really quick read and could easily be finished in 1-2 days. Webb keeps the chapters pretty short while also ending almost all of them in a way that makes you want to keep reading. I was constantly telling myself just one more chapter, and I loved every single second. So why did I give it a 4/5 instead of a 5/5? For as amazing as I thought the whole book was, the end felt so anticlimactic, and I really wish there would have been a larger reveal or something more than what we got. The entire time I was reading it felt like it was leading up to something big, and especially after the end of The Haunting of Brynn Wilder, I was just hoping for so much more. However! The end is still satisfying for what it is, and this in no way deters me from reading more of Webb's novels. If you like magical realism with a strong dose of lore, The Keepers of Metsan Valo is the book for you!
I received a complimentary digital copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Family drama. Nordic folklore. Mystical elements. Gothic aesthetics.
Anni Halla’s family home, Metsan Valo, sits on an island on Lake Superior. It was built by her great-grandparents and was the home of her recently deceased Mammo (grandmother). Since Anni’s childhood, Mammo told her the most enchanting stories about the forest edging the estate being full of spirits, demons and danger. About the folk that lived in the forest and in the water, that could harm you or help you, depending on their whim.
After her passing, Anni’s family are instructed to meet at the island estate for the reading of her grandmothers will; a family reunion of sorts.
Anni and her twin brother Theo, arrive first to greet their extended family who bring tension into the home. The twins opt to stay on the estate during their remaining time there. They both experience unexplainable, malevolent happenings. Life really spirals out of control after their mother’s home in town is broken in to, not once but twice, leading to (once again, unexplainable) accidents and disappearances thereafter. With the odd phenomena happening to her family, Anni remembers Mammo’s stories, and plunges headfirst reading about her families past, finding out who she is, and what needs to be done to stop the danger her family is in.
I loved the surreal, wonderfully atmospheric setting and how well the story encompasses and builds itself around Finnish folklore, which, interesting enough, is inspired by the authors own Finnish ancestry.
I’ve also read Daughters of the Lake, and have since wanted to read her backlist.
Do you have a favorite Wendy Webb book?
*Thanks to Lake Union Publishing via NetGalley for kindly providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
A real spooky page-turner! It’s good, interesting, and moody. The Lake Superior setting is beautiful and well rendered. The terrain, along with the house called Metsan Valo, are almost characters themselves, as is key with great gothic fiction.
Anni is returning to her child home on beautiful Lake Superior after many years away. Unfortunately, her return is not for a happy reason, but because of the recent death of her cherished grandmother. Even though initially resistant, Anni finds she is glad to be back in near the water and among the trees. Yet, strange things are afoot at Metsan Valo, and the keepers of the place seem to know more than they are saying. Can Anni and her twin brother figure out the mysterious happenings before it is too late? A true gothic classic.
Everything tied up in a nice, happy bow at the end. Although I think I would have preferred a spooky cliffhanger.
Recommended for fans of Daphne DuMaurier and Susanna Kearsley or for your next book club!
A big thank you to Wendy Web, Lake Union Publishing, and NetGalley, for providing a complimentary Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for this honest review.
📚 Hello Book Friends! THE KEEPERS OF METSAN VALO by Wendy Webb is a story of family, tradition, sacrifice, and finding oneself. I love stories about mystical beings and their link to certain people. This book was full of mysteries and commotion and the author succeeded to bring everything together in the end. I love the interesting interactions between all the family members; in particular the one between Anni, her twin brother and her mom. The characters of Yale and Charles were contradictory, and I wish the author would have written them either good or bad, not both at the same time. The scenery descriptions were enchanting and Metsan Valo sounds like an enchanted place to live and grow up in. This book will please any fiction, fantasy, or mystery lovers. Great read!
Metsan Valo is an ancient family house on Lake Superior. After her Mummo’s (grandmother) death, Anni Halla goes back to the house to meet the rest of the family and know about Mummo’s will.
Anni and Theo, her twin brother, grew up in Metsan Velo, listening to stories about forests, vaki (forest spirits), and the pact between the Halla family and vaki.
As the family arrives, one after another, tension fills the house, and mysterious events take place around them. The caretakers, Martin and Meri, talk in circles and don’t make much sense. Why are the woods angry? Who wants to harm the family that’s still grieving the loss of their beloved elder?
Even before Anni can find answers, a tragedy strikes, followed by another. Things are spiraling out of control, and Anni has no idea how to find a way out. Can she believe in her Mummo’s tales and find a solution before it is too late?
This is my first book by the author, and I thoroughly enjoyed her prose. It is evocative and strong. The setting is my ever favorite- an old home in a forest full of secrets. The hint of paranormal suspense and the setting are the main reasons I requested this book.
The characters are well-written, and some of them have a surreal touch. This complements the storyline very well. The relationship between the twins felt warm, loving, and comforting. The family drama is controlled and sorted (a little too easily solved, maybe).
I liked how Anni is neither overly eager to believe in the folklore. But at the same time, she doesn’t hesitate to consider the possibility. It added to her character and made her quite real.
The suspense builds during the first half and continues in the second. The consistent increase in suspense led me to believe that there would one a major climax (a showdown of sorts) to match the rise. That’s where I was disappointed. The climax drifted and settled without any drama. I kept waiting for it, and the ends were already being tied and tidied.
That one scene I felt was crucial to the central plot was mentioned in less than a page (more as an afterthought)! What started as a 4 + book ended up less than 4. Still, the book has closure and even a happy ending. And I could finish it in two days (though I read past my reading time).
I’ve added 2-3 previous books of the author to my TBR just to enjoy her prose and the paranormal elements. Some reviewers mentioned this book is different from the previous ones, and that got me curious. Let’s see how I feel about them.
Overall, The Keepers of Metsan Velo is a lovely book if you like the same elements as I do. However, don’t expect much in terms of unfolding the suspense and acting on it.
I received an ARC from NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing and am voluntarily leaving a review.
P.S: I’m off to read more about vaki and Nordic folklore.
In my opinion Wendy Webb never disappoints, and The Keepers of Metsan Valo is another sparkling gem. Filled with mystery, enchantment, folklore, legends, and magic. Webb brings you back to the shores of Lake Superior, a location that many of her books take place. This time on the small island of Ile de Colette. Where the matriarch, Taika Halla (Mummo), of the family has passed. With the gathering of her family converging on Metsan Valo, which means Forest Light in Finnish, to hear the last wishes of Taika. There is bound to be some family drama at every turn, with so much as stake.
Annalise (Anni) is the granddaughter of Taika and she is the first to arrive at her home away from home. She is brought back to her childhood as soon as she crosses the threshold. She can hear herself and her twin brother's laughter as they tear down the hall, watch them causing mischief in the yard, and an overall peace that settles over her. This feeling of tranquility is short lived, as strange occurrences begin to happen.
Swarming fireflies that vanish into thin air, sleepwalking into the forest and waking back up in bed, whispers, singing, menacing images that fleet through Anni's mind. Is she going insane, or is it something else? Mummo always spoke of the Vakis or the spirits of the forest, water, and air. They can help you or cause you harm, make you sick or heal you, they can be happy go lucky or downright menacing and evil. Depending on their mood or whim. Could there be more to Mummo's tall tales?
Webb has a way of creating an atmosphere with the setting of the story. Metsan Valo was built by the Hala Finnish ancestor's generations ago. The area borders along the turbulent waters of Lake Superior and runs along the magical forest of the island. You can picture yourself walking amongst the majestic trees and hear the lapping of the waves. You also feel the spine-chilling fear as Anni and her family dive deeper and deeper into the unknown. With only the folklore of her Mummo to guide them.
I completely devoured this fantastical book. I love how Webb took inspiration from her Finnish ancestors basing the book on folklore, legends, and magic. I was also delighted that Webb brought back characters from her previous books. The connections sparking in my brain, as I think wait that sounds familiar. Quickly reaching for my other Wendy Webb books or looking it up on Goodreads. As you are waiting for this book to be released you can brush up on her other books in the meantime. They are all fantastic, spelling binding, hair raising reads. Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Authors for allowing me to read this advance copy. Do yourself a favor and preorder this today!
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Actual rating: 2.5 stars.
I love Wendy Webb's books, but unfortunately this one fell flat for me.
I think my problem was that The Keepers of Metsan Valo was too much like Webb's two previous novels - a girl at a turning point in her life arrives at Lake Superior and is involved in supernatural things.
As usual, I really loved the setting, it was definitely my favourite part of the story. I liked Anni's relationship with her twin brother, and the folklore was interesting, but apart from that I didn't find the plot to be very surprising or exciting, and I found myself a little bored.
I'm still looking forward to Webb's next book, but this one didn't impress me.
Unfortunately this was a DNF for me. I paused at about the halfway mark and I'm not really sure I'll go back to it. The book started off strong; a really interesting prologue followed by an intriguing first couple of chapters. However, that's where events seemed to stagnate.
I was really looking forward to the folklore element of the book, and perhaps there would be more further in, however, not a lot happens in the first half of the book. I found the pace quite slow and when bizarre things happen to the characters they seem to lack the urgency or appropriate reactions you'd expect from them. One incident in particular sees a character in a very dangerous predicament and yet the following morning it's sort of forgotten about by all involved except for a throwaway comment or two. There was also the weird way in which our MC and her twin kind of made fun of their kind of troubled mother and this really was quite off-putting.
There were some positives that I did enjoy; the sibling relationship I really enjoyed (albeit not the way they were towards their mother), the family dynamics surrounding a death rung true and felt real, the first couple of chapters were gripping.
Unfortunately, this wasn't my cup of tea but I am sure it will be the right fit for someone else. Based off what I did enjoy, rating of 2.5 stars.
Not my favorite Wendy Webb book. The whole thing felt kind of elementary, or kind of rushed. I didn't feel like there were any family secrets or ancient mysteries as advertised. It lacked depth and Anni was just annoying to me. I would have liked to see a lot more focus on the legends/ghosts. Maybe there could have been a mystery or curse to explore, a greater tie to the past. It was mundane when all Anni had to do was walk out into the woods and yell at the air and suddenly the coffee tastes better and get mom woke up. I did like the premise and exploration of breaking down the old family roles to make way for better and deeper understanding and connection. It was okay, I kept reading but it wasn't great.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I was put off by the title for quite a while and fantasy is not really my go to so I went into the story skeptical but I was pleasantly surprised. I liked it a lot. Metsan Valo is on an island in Lake Superior. I could imagine the house built of rough hewn logs, honey colored floors, wrought iron railings and lots of plaids. Oh and gorgeous views of the woods and lake beyond. Annaliese and her twin, Theo spent a good deal of time there with their grandmother who they called Mummo, Finnish for grandmother. Anni and Theo were raised by their mother, Arden, who wasn't always attentive but loving. The story begins with the death of Mummo and the family gathering at Metsan Valo for the reading of her will. Gloria, Arden's sister, shows up with a new husband and has morphed into Jackie O. She brings her daughter, Vicky, Vicky's husband, Yale, and their daughter, Lichen. At first none of the characters seem likeable but as stranger things happen the family realizes the power of the house and the Vaki, spirits in the woods.
As I said, I enjoyed the story and liked the fantasy part of it. I wish though that some of the things that occurred were a bit more explained other than being a product of nasty spirits.
I would like to thank Netgalley and Lake Union for allowing me access to this book.
'The Keepers of Metsan Valo' is a story set around Lake Superior where a family is brought together due to a loss and finds themselves at the heart of a strange mystery that may have something to do with the eerie woods surrounding their family home.
This was a dark magical realism story that featured folklore, creepy relatives, and a beguiling mystery. I have read my share of magical realism stories, usually taking place in the southern United States full of charm and wit, but this was a darker interpretation that had a captivating supernatural puzzle that had me hooked from the first page. As a Canadian, I absolutely loved the northern setting which is often missing from this genre.
I am glad this story didn’t venture far into the fantasy realm, because the folkloric elements could have taken it there. Instead, the author made this story about the power of ancestry and the magic that can be found in every family if one looks hard enough. There were quirky characters and spooky scenes that made this a very enjoyable read for me. The author did a great job at keeping the story suspenseful and leaving some questions unanswered.
I would highly recommend this book for fans of southern gothic magical realism and magical women’s fiction who are looking for something a little different.
Thank you to the publisher for providing this ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
SUMMARY: This is the story of the Valla family, and their long history on an island in Lake Superior...the gothic and wonderful Metsan Valo. Anni has recently returned to her childhood home, after learning of the death of her beloved grandmother Mummo. As the rest of the clan arrives, mystery after mystery occurs, until Anni wonders what her purpose is? Should she stay and become the caretaker of her beloved ancestral home? Or does fate have other plans for her?
PROS and CONS: It always amazes me how Wendy Webb seems just off everyone’s radar...she’s amazing. If you love gothic settings, spooky vibes, great plot (and just a touch of the supernatural) - she’s the gal for you!! In no way is this book a thriller so don’t go in expecting that. Rather, it is a well researched book with fairy tale elements that a lover of gothic fiction is sure to enjoy.
READ IT? Wendy Webb is a great author, I look forward to reading her next!!! I’ll admit this one wasn’t my favourite of hers (I think The End of Temperance Dare is my all time fave) but she always delivers on setting and characters.
This isn’t my favorite Wendy Webb novel. The plot starts out strong and super interesting sounding, but you get 3/4 thru the novel and everything just kind of falls flat. The family drama that was heating up there for a while just gets forgotten, the creepy happenings just get explained away super easily, and everything was so easily fixed that it was all kind of a let down. I liked most of the characters, but they went from interesting and starting to fill out fully, to bland people who suddenly get along and treat each other well. It was very weird, and made the novel seem like it was finished by someone other than Wendy Webb. And I adore her other novels..!
The amazing and very talented Xe Sands is the narrator for the audiobook version of this novel. And as usual, Ms. Sands is one of the best narrators out there today. I adore her characterizations in this novel, just as I have loved her work in all the other audiobooks she has done. And I hope amd. Sands continues to have a long, and healthy narration career in the future, too. Thank you again, Ms. Sands!
While this wasn’t my favorite Webb novel, it was still interesting enough to continue listening to it to the end. It was also a decent way to spend the evening, because Xe Sands was in charge.
This is the kind of book you want to curl up with in front of a fire place and spend hours enjoying.
There is quite a lot of repetition going on throughout the story, but the magic and folklore in here definitely make up for all of it. I also loved that we revisited characters from previous books. It felt nice reading about them once again.
As a side note, the author spends a crazy amount of time describing the scenario instead of actually having anything happen in the story, but, overall, it was an enjoyable and pleasant read. I would recommend it
This is my second book from Wendy Webb and I'm still unsure whether she's an author for me or not. I like her stories, her style, her characters. But she's always a bit too mystical in the end... Still, if Xe Sands continues to narrate her novels, I'll continue listening! They are perfect together.
I enjoyed this story, it may not have been as spooky as her other books but still a good story that kept me guessing as to what was really going on until the end! More family drama than ghost story. I wish it had been scarier. But it did grab me from the start and I thought it was a good story.
Xe Sands as always does a fabulous job at the narration and brought every character to life!
Overall a good book just not as spooky as her previous books.
Take me away to the shores of Lake Superior. My GOD I love the world that Wendy Webb creates. Sure - there's always something supernatural going on and someone always dies but there's always something magical and romantic and haunting and beautiful there too.
Anni returns to Metsan Valo because her beloved Mummo has died and the entire family has gathered to pay their last respects. Anni's twin arrives next and they are quickly attacked by fireflies - then they get stuck in a sauna - and then he just walks off the dock into the lake. Then their mother disappears - throw in a handsome lawyer, a new Uncle, a somewhat creepy groundskeeper and a book that appears to be hundreds of years old and you have a Wendy Webb book.
Like previous stories, we also have familiar characters and locations - Gary and LuAnne appear as does the diner - the inn and the bookstore. Did I cry as much as I did with Brynn Wilder - no, but this was still an excellent story.
I am a massive fan of Wendy's stories and can't wait to see where she takes us next.
If you love folklore and gothic suspense then I have the perfect read for you! Welcome to THE KEEPERS OF METSAN VALO. Beware creepy laughter, raps at the doors and a house that is as full of character as the people it holds within.
Recently I've had a few sleepwalking incidents but if I ever woke up in a forest, I think my heart would stop... well, as soon as I stopped screaming. Especially since I live in NYC and well... waking up in a forest would be quite confusing and scary. And then to get bombarded with fireflies? I know they are essentially harmless but bugs are bugs and NO THANK YOU. NOPE. Don't want it. Byeeeeeeeeee. But these things along with this huge house really sets up the suspense and keeps you wondering... supernatural? Magic? Are Taika's stories coming to life? GIVE ME ALL THE FOLKLORE PLEASE. At the very least, this book delivers on atmospheric tension. It truly shines here.
I also had the pleasure of chatting with the author via IG Live last night and really loved where she gets her ideas for her books. Being inspired from her own Finnish ancestry... and as well all know and love, most folklore is creepy in its origins. I live for this stuff! The pacing starts off strong and then lulls towards the middle but then picks right back up. Folklore, ancestry, familial obligation and the ups and downs every family goes through in their own way...
I'll certainly be picking up more from Webb and can't wait to see characters visiting throughout each read.
Enjoyed it but it wasn't my favorite by the author. I have so many mixed feelings. I really liked the story up until the end. It seemed so anticlimactic. It started off so well- scary house on an island, ghosts, creepy caretakers and family secrets. There was so much mysterious stuff happening. Then everything is explained away in one rainy night, which Anni didn't even remember and then poof everything is right again. The story was dark, creepy and ghostly and so much was going on that couldn't be explained and simply offering some food made it better. I felt like there was more to learn about the characters. I didn't love any of them because there was so much I didn't know about them. There was definitely a story behind Meri and Martin. How long have they been at Metsan Valo? Do they age? Yale was so mad about his inheritance and then just drops it out of nowhere. What about Charles? There was so much I wanted to know about these people. Can Anni ever leave Metsan Valo for long periods of time or will the vaki start to rebel? I would have given the book four stars, until everything was explained away so easily.
Definitely recommend giving the book a try. Loved getting see a few people from previous books. Look forward to reading more books by the author. Love the cover of the book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Lake Union Publishing through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.